Both houses are whipping through bills, headed toward adjournment today. The House has voted 44-25 in favor of SB 1395 as amended in the House, the bill to grant 1.5 percent raises to top state elected officials for each of the next four years, rather than 2.5 percent as the bill originally said. Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, who is running for Secretary of State, asked to be excused from voting as the bill could affect his future pay. Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, who is running for the same position, made the same disclosure but opted to vote – against the bill. She said having served on the committee that granted just 1 percent for permanent raises for state employees next year, “It doesn’t really seem fair to me that we’re now giving 1.5 percent to this particular branch of state employees.”
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said, “We also gave a 1 percent bonus. That’s 2 percent. All we’re offering to our elected officials is 1.5. I think that’s a good compromise. … I think it is the right thing to do.” The bill now goes back to the Senate.
The House has also passed several appropriation bills, including HB 649, funding the new wolf-control fund next year with $400,000 in one-time funds, which passed 53-16; and HB 650, the $4.8 million bailout bill to pay Education Networks of America next year for missing federal e-rate funds for the Idaho Education Network, while also requiring improvements in contract management and reporting at the state Department of Administration. That passed 67-1 with just Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, dissenting. “I think we've learned a lot,” said House Appropriations Chairwoman Maxine Bell, R-Jerome. House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “When things are done wrong, we need to hold them accountable. I would hope that we use this as a lesson, not just for the Idaho Education Network, but for all of the tens of millions of dollars that we contract out.”